Santa Maria Mountains Loop Trail

Prescott, Arizona

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This long trail follows a wide loop through the Santa Maria Mountains in the Prescott National Forest. The main attraction of this lightly traveled trail is the range of forest scenery through which it passes. Initially, it travels through open ranchland as it heads toward the forest boundary. As the trail starts to climb into the forest, the landscape changes to low hills vegetated with pinyon, juniper, and a variety of low shrubs. As the elevation increases, tall ponderosa pines and oaks dominate. Most of the loop is lightly traveled and you may spend a couple of days, especially around the apex of the loop, without seeing another vehicle. Special Attractions: Long trail passing through a variety of forest vegetation; Excellent backcountry camping; Old Walnut Creek Cemetery and Walnut Creek Station. High-clearance vehicles are preferred, but not necessary. This trail is dirt roads, but may have rocks, grades, water crossings, or ruts that make clearance a concern in a normal passenger vehicle. The trail is fairly wide, so that passing is possible at almost any point along the trail. Mud is not a concern under normal weather conditions.

Santa Maria Mountains Loop Trail Professional Review and Guide

"This long trail follows a wide loop through the Santa Maria Mountains in the Prescott National Forest. The main attraction of this lightly traveled trail is the range of forest scenery through which it passes. Initially, it travels through open ranchland as it heads toward the forest boundary. As the trail starts to climb into the forest, the landscape changes to low hills vegetated with pinyon, juniper, and a variety of low shrubs. As the elevation increases, tall ponderosa pines and oaks dominate.

Most of the loop is lightly traveled and you may spend a couple of days, especially around the apex of the loop, without seeing another vehicle. Special Attractions: Long trail passing through a variety of forest vegetation; Excellent backcountry camping; Old Walnut Creek Cemetery and Walnut Creek Station. High-clearance vehicles are preferred, but not necessary. This trail is dirt roads, but may have rocks, grades, water crossings, or ruts that make clearance a concern in a normal passenger vehicle. The trail is fairly wide, so that passing is possible at almost any point along the trail. Mud is not a concern under normal weather conditions."

Activity Type: Off-Highway Drives
Nearby City: Prescott
Distance: 35.3
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: 2.5 hours
Season: Year-round, best dry weather
Trailhead Elevation: 4,600 feet
Top Elevation: 6,500 feet
Local Contacts: Prescott National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Simmons, Seepage Mt., Camp Wood, Juniper Mts., Indian Peak, Prescott; BLM Prescott; USFS Prescott National Forest, Chino Valley Ranger District
Driving Directions: Directions to Santa Maria Mountains Loop Trail

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May 2018